Developed about 6 years ago by Drifty Co., the Ionic framework quickly became a breakthrough technology in just two years post release. By 2015, Ionic developers from different regions around the globe built over 1 million apps with the SDK. The open source framework is primarily used to develop hybrid mobile apps in a world where native app development is a big deal.
Recently, Ionic app development shifted its focus to Progressive Web Apps, better known as PWAs. PWA is expected to stir up quite a buzz in 2019, and might potentially replace native apps in the future.
What is a PWA?
We know what native apps can do – they work offline, they can send push notifications, and they offer great performance. Then there are standard mobile web apps. These apps depend on the browser’s properties and can’t run offline. Mobile web apps cannot send push notifications either. But they are smaller compared to native apps and aren’t as expensive to develop compared to native apps.
A PWA is essentially a combination of the two that bridges the gap between a mobile web app and a native app. PWAs are built with a number of technologies, design concepts, and web APIs that work synchronously to give mobile users an app-like experience on the mobile web.
Here are a few stats that emphasize why PWA is going to be the norm soon.
- Uber uses a PWA which is said to be impressively fast even on a 2G network taking about 3 seconds to load.
- BookMyShow’s PWA takes about 3 seconds to load as well leading to increased conversion rates (over 80% increase). The PWA is considerably smaller than their native Android and iOS apps.
- After launching their PWA, Pinterest found an increase in core engagements of about 60% and a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue.
- Tinder’s PWA reduced their load time significantly – from about 12% to almost 5%.
- Forbes’ impressions per visit are up 10% thanks to their PWA which loads 2.5 times faster on mobile devices than their previous site.
- Twitter Lite experienced a 65% increase in pages per session and a 20% decrease in bounce rate.
The Ionic framework
What makes Ionic special is the plethora of features it comes with. Ionic is fully supported by AngularJS. Developers can build Ionic apps leveraging various web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass, and distribute the apps through native app stores using Cordova. It has a powerful CLI that facilitates app development and testing across popular mobile platforms. Thanks to Sass, the framework also provides a multitude of UI components for creating apps that provide a rich, immersive user experience. Essentially, developing complex apps with Ionic is a walk in the park.
Ionic for PWAs
You might have noticed that a few big names use PWAs now, and the shift granted them great benefits in return. Before Ionic came into the frame, app developers had to go for Native coding in order to develop iOS, Android, and Windows apps. Coding for each platform required independent development.
The advent of Ionic made it possible for developers to easily build apps that resemble native apps that can also run on all technology stacks and popular platforms. These apps are known as hybrid apps – what Ionic became popular for.
This also somewhat explains how Ionic became a great choice for building PWAs.
- The framework allows developers to combine CSS, HTML5, and Sass to build PWAs with visually appealing user interfaces.
- Ionic makes it much easier for developers to deploy code on any mobile operating system or platform.
- Ionic can work with a number of Cordova plugins. Since it’s an HTML5 framework, Ionic requires a wrapper like Cordova to ensure the apps function like a native one. With Cordova plugins, developers are able to add native features to PWAs.
- It is free and open source making it a budget-friendly ingredient to craft apps. Its open source nature also makes it easier to manage the code structure.
- Ionic’s growing community also makes it a good choice for amateur app developers who will need help in getting the code right.
- Ionic comes with a robust Command Line Interface allowing developers to build, test, and deploy apps to any chosen platform.
Let’s see how Ionic addresses a few key aspects of a PWA.
- Responsiveness – The UI components of Ionic are known for flexibility making it easier for developers to build responsive UI with the framework.
- Connectivity Independence – Modern Ionic apps can be effortlessly combined with service workers to enable apps to run offline.
- App-like Experience – Ionic is a mobile-first framework. So the PWAs built with Ionic will closely resemble mobile apps when it comes to UX.
- Re-engagement – PWAs can re-engage users with push notifications. Ionic works well with many libraries and packages that developers can use to implement a push notifications feature.
- Discoverability – Search engines can find PWAs easier thanks to the W3C manifest and scope of service worker registration. The changes in the functionality of Ionic’s router make apps much easier to discover.
On top of all this Ionic has a harmonious relationship with Angular. The combination grants an enhanced development experience as a result of the familiar Angular-specific building blocks working in tandem with Ionic core components. Ionic also features a PWA Tookit which includes everything that a developer would need to build high performance, secure PWAs without depending on front-end frameworks like React, Vue etc.
It should be clear to you by now that almost every principle that constitutes a progressive web app is already incorporated in Ionic. However, when it comes to developing the best user experience for the PWA, Ionic developers may find a few blocks on the road. The issues are trivial and should be addressed by the Ionic team soon in a more stable release of the Ionic 4. Summing it all up, PWAs are the future and Ionic certainly appears to be a great choice for developers to craft progressive web apps that could turn the tides positively for businesses in the coming years.
The devs here at AOT technologies have already mastered Ionic to build powerful native, hybrid, and progressive web apps. If you think you could use a PWA, why not build it with Ionic here at AOT? Let us know your thoughts.